Linguistics (and English Language) Personal Statement

Unlike most people who are indifferent towards language, I am fascinated by it. Though still uncertain of what exactly it is, a tool, an instinct, or phenomenon, I recognise its power to persuade, manipulate, disgust, bewilder, excite, and create observable change in people and the world around them.

My passion for language gradually developed after I started writing poetry and discovered the power of owning a poetic license. I had the power to create words, twist sentence structures and ignore the rules which I had been ingrained with from birth. My most recent piece of writing, titled 'Liana', revolves around the themes of what it means to be human, femininity, sexuality and sex vs. gender.

What I love the most about writing is how limitless it is; I am free to put anything down on my paper. My play has now won first place in a creative writing competition, been published in a local Shanghai magazine, and is currently being made into a drama production at my school. I am assisting with the directing process in the drama production, and it is an incomparable feeling to have others interpreting and reading something that you have created. Although it is my text and I had my own intention for the overall message of the text, it is incredible to see how others can create their own, perfectly justifiable meaning for it.

My insightful nature lead me to see through the generally accepted belief that subjects are separate and intended to be studied in isolation from one another. When joining the IBDP program, I carefully selected subjects that interested me and would cultivate my passion for Linguistics. I have been able to study the relationship and connections between Linguistics and Psychology, Philosophy, Computer Science, Theory of Knowledge and even Mathematics. Reading Nietzsche's On The Genealogy of Morals and finding that he used etymology to trace the origin of morality showed me just how much information we can gather from diachronic linguistics.

After first moving to China and not being fluent in Mandarin, I was heavily reliant on translation software. Despite the shortcomings of machine translation, the lack of direct translations for words and lack of succinctness, it still facilitates basic communication. But when communicating through these applications, I could still feel the disconnect between myself and the other party. Shortly after, I began independently learning Mandarin. Learning a language so different from English has allowed me to compare and contrast the two, and take a critical look at the nature of languages and how we use them. I started to immerse myself in linguistics through online linguistics courses offered by Leiden University, through reading of Steven Pinker, Chomsky and Clark, and conducting my own interdisciplinary investigations.

Thus far, I've done my IB extended essay on word prediction within computational linguistics, looking at the capabilities of modern computers and their ineptness for language has lead me to further consolidate my understanding of how exceptional and unpredictable language can be. In mathematics I've tested Zipf's Law within some of my favourite books, and discovered the objectivity within that which I thought was wholly subjective.

My favorite investigation was on the effect of language on recall in psychology. I conducted my own experiment that involved leading questions and how memory can be reconstructed based on the language we use. Outside of my studies, I volunteer at an international hospital where I assist with translating between English and Mandarin for patients, take care of young children and tell stories to senior citizens. I am a tenacious, inquisitive and creative student and am confident that I have the capacity and determination to be successful at university

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I was quite happy with the outcome of this personal statement. I wrote it a few days before the deadline, but it still turned out quite strong.

University of Cambridge
University of Edinburgh
University of Sheffield


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